Can my teenager get laser eye surgery?

22 Aug 2020

Some teens who have to wear glasses to compensate for a refractive error would love to avail of eye surgery to free them from a dependence on corrective eyewear.

They can’t get the surgery until they are at least 18, and it’s because throughout childhood the body is continuously growing, and during the teenage years when there is an unprecedented growth spurt the eyes are susceptible to changing shape.

Teenagers who need glasses to see clearly will not be able to undergo Laser Eye Surgery because it is likely that their eyesight will continue to change until the eye stops growing.

Laser Eye Surgery permanently reshapes the cornea to negate any refractive error, and in the case of teenagers it is unsafe to perform the procedure as the cornea is not fully developed.

To be considered as a viable candidate for Laser Eye Surgery at Optilase, a patient must be over 18 and have a stable refractive error for at least 12 months.

What is a refractive error?
A refractive error is related to the process of refraction that takes place in the eye and allows a person to see clearly.

Light rays from the outside world enter through the front of the eye where the cornea is located and undergo refraction or the bending of light.

When light is refracted correctly by the cornea it lands directly on the retina at the back of the eye and images appear in focus.

If there is a refractive error, it can be linked to either the shape of the cornea or the length of the eye.

A refractive error causes light to land either in front of or behind the retina, which causes blurred vision.

What is a stable refractive error?
A stable refractive error means that there has been no change in a patient’s eyesight for a period of 12 months or more.

When the eye has completed growing, the original refractive error remains the same and can be effectively treated with Laser Eye Surgery.

In the case of teenagers, any refractive error cannot be deemed stable and therefore there is a risk of under-correction if they were to undergo Laser Eye Surgery.

An under-correction would mean that as the eye continues to grow the corrective measure is reduced and once again glasses would be needed to see clearly.

Laser Eye Surgery would have to be performed again once the refractive error had stabilized.

For more information, call any of our award-winning clinics on +353 1 223 8821.

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